Source: (2013) Contemporary Justice Review. 16(2)214-227.

Retributive theories of legal punishment fail to justify the imprisonment of convicted offenders. There are three prominent retributive theories that attempt this: Fair Play theory, Moral Communication theory, and Intuitive Desert theory. Fair Play retributivists seek to imprison offenders in order to re-balance the distribution of benefits and burdens, which is upset by criminal offences. Moral Communication retributivists seek to imprison offenders as a means of communicating society’s condemnation of criminality. Intuitive Desert retributivists seek to imprison offenders because it is a deserved response to wrongdoing (the supporting evidence is our intuitive reactions to criminality). These theories are critiqued and attention is drawn to the superiority of certain restorative justice values and practices. (author's abstract)